Acne is a world wide skin condition which affects mostly teenagers, but frequently affects adults, as well. There is definitely a genetic component. This has been demonstrated by many studies involving identical twins.
Also, it appears to me that Europeans, as a race, have more acne than Asians, in particular, who seem to escape this disease. Africans have a lower prevalence than Europeans, but not as low as the Asians.
FOUR MAJOR COMPONENTS
In order to create the phenomenon of acne one needs four major components:
All humans have a combination of Androgen and Estrogen in their bodies. Each sex has a predominance of their hormone over the other hormone. However, during adolescence there are spurts of each hormone, and when androgen is high this causes the sebaceous glands in the skin to produce more oil.
2. Sebaceous Glands
These glands produce a complex mixture of fatty acids called SEBUM.
Here is the composition from Wikipedia:
“The composition of sebum varies across species. In humans, the lipid content is as follows:
|16%||free fatty acids|
Sapienic acid is a sebum fatty acid that is unique to humans.
The function of sebum is to maintain the integrity of the skin and hair. Many doctors believe that if you restrict fats or fructose you can lower these fats and thereby ameliorate the disease. Incidentally, studies on chocolate have shown NO RELATIONSHIP to acne.
I believe diet is a major factor in the AMELIORATION (making less) of the disease. Reduce carbohydrates, especially fructose, and all foods that increase triglycerides in the blood stream. Stay out of McDonald’s!
When a large amount of sebum is produced, the sebaceous gland ruptures. The fatty acids irritate the surrounding skin cells and cause a condition called INFLAMATION.
Inflamation=rubor, tumor, calor and dolor (red, swollen, hot and painful; “RTCD” if you are a medical student)
Inflamation all over the body has the same signs. It is simply blood rushing into the area that is in danger. The blood is RED (RUBOR), it causes SWELLING (TUMOR), it is HOT (CALOR) and the swelling causes PAIN (DOLOR). When you see inflamation on your skin, especially on the face, you know a sebaceous gland has broken.
As we know from our studies of evolution, predators are everywhere, even on our skin. The predator in this case is a bacterium called: Propionibacterium acnes P. ACNES.
If you can’t remember this bacterium, you’ve got a memory problem.
WHERE TO ATTACK?
Doctors, especially Dermatologists, attack at all four levels.
What are you going to do with a crying teenage girl who points to those red bumps on her face and tells you she is about ready to commit suicide?
If she is on birth control pills, part of the answer is available.
There are about four new birth control pills that reduce the amount of androgen produced by the ovaries. Androgen is also produced by the Adrenal Cortex, glands lying over the kidneys, and this quantity of androgen might not be reduced.
2. SEBACEOUS GLANDS
The number of these glands per square centimeter of skin is determined genetically and cannot be changed.
P ACNES BACTERIA
However, the structure of the gland, is that of a bottle with a thin neck. If you wash the skin frequently, with hot water and soap (which dissolves oil) you have less of a chance of obstructing the neck of the gland. If the gland does not rupture, you can prevent inflamation and its consequence, infection.
Also, if you leave an oil in the neck, after hot washing, and that oil dissolves the sebum so that it does not harden you have a better chance of avoiding a rupture.
Inflamation is caused by rupture of the gland. The rupture is caused by an inappropriate production of (too much) sebum.
We can attack this production at the liver, where triglycerides are produced. A small number of very potent medications have been synthesized for this attack. The most famous has the Trade Name “ACCUTANE.” (isotretinoin) This is a very dangerous drug, in particular, in females. If the female becomes pregnant the chance of a severely deformed baby is huge!
Many countries do not permit its use.
I do not advise using this drug. The risk/reward ratio is enormous. Why risk severe deformity over a cosmetic condition?
I would attack the production of sebum with dietary changes. A referral to an Allergist for possible diet allergies, or simply, a blood test for dietary antibodies may help the situation.
Caloric restriction and the ingestion of Virgin Coconut Oil, one teaspoon three times daily, has proven beneficial in many of my patients.
Caloric Restriction, also helps, but is very difficult to institute. We are discussing growing adolescents with intense appetites. Trying this modality is almost always a waste of time. The use of VCO is always accepted, and this oil has the benefit of changing the production of triglycerides.
This is where Tea Tree Oil (melaleuca oil) plays a major role.
TEA TREE OIL MUST BE DILUTED! DO NOT USE UNDILUTED!
Tea Tree oil comes from a plant found only in Australia. The indigenous inhabitants of Australia have used this oil for centuries for skin conditions!
The oil kills all micro-organisms, such as fungi, bacteria and viruses on contact.
If used at a concentration of five percent, it will kill P. ACNES.
It will also kill the infamous MRSA staph bacteria that is becoming so notorious because of the lack of immunity to this bacteria. This lack of immunity is due to the evolution of a bacteria in the widespread use of antibiotics.
The FDA does not support the use of Tea Tree Oil for anything.
Why? Because Tea Tree Oil is not patented. It is found in Nature, and no giant Pharma company is paying FDA officials for its use. However, it is permissible to advise its use as an alternative medicine, without ascribing any curative properties.
Hence, I cannot say that Tea Tree oil will cure anything. However, anyone wishing to try it, should consult his personal physician and follow his advice.
I advise the reader to research the use of Tea Tree Oil and learn what are the benefits and side effects. From the few studies that I have read, it is better than the Benzoyl Peroxide.
Here is a brief excerpt from Wikipedia:
“Tea tree oil has been recognized as a potent antiseptic in Australia anecdotally for many years, but has been scientifically investigated only relatively recently.
Recent studies support a role for the topical application of tea tree oil in skin care and for the treatment of various diseases and conditions. Tea tree oil appears to be effective against bacteria, viruses, fungal infections, mites such as scabies, and lice such as head lice. A 2008 study of in vitro toxicity showed a tea tree oil preparation was more effective against head lice than permethrin, a popular pharmaceutical remedy.
Tea tree oil has activity against the bacterium Staphylococcus aureus, including MRSA, and when used at a 10% concentration is comparable with mupirocin for application to the skin. At this concentration it has the added benefit of having never been shown to cause resistance; however, this can occur at lower percentages.
Tea tree oil is less successful for application in the nose. Also, there is clinical evidence that topical dermatological preparations containing tea tree oil may be more effective than conventional antibiotics in preventing transmission of CA-MRSA.
In the treatment of moderate common acne, topical application of 5% tea tree oil has shown an effect comparable to 5% benzoyl peroxide, albeit with slower onset of action.
Tea tree oil is a known antifungal agent, effective in vitro against multiple dermatophytes found on the skin. In vivo, shampoo with 5% tea tree oil has been shown to be an effective treatment for dandruff due to its ability to treat Malassezia furfur, the most common cause of the condition. Just a few drops of tea tree oil added to a small to medium sized bottle of baby shampoo works well to cure head lice as well.
The effectiveness of topical tea tree oil preparations for the treatment of the yeast infection Candidiasis is supported by its ability to kill Candida in vitro.”
The reader can see from this excerpt that very few bacteria will live in an environment of 5% Tea Tree Oil.
No. 4, infection, is where a patient can attack the entire process of Acne, by disrupting the killer bacteria that turns the No. 3, Inflamation into death of the skin cells which ultimately forms depressed “acne scars.”
And the monetary cost for doing so is within the range of even the poorest readers.
Here are sample instructions:
Use 5% solution. Spot test on your forearm for 24 hours to see if you have any allergic reaction. Apply totally at night after a good scrub and drying.
The bacteria is all over your skin, so just hitting the red areas is insufficient. You may want to dilute to 1/2 the first night, in case of a reaction.
Once an infection is established, the P. ACNES is in the hair follicle beneath the skin. To eradicate those bacteria takes about a week.